Autism Awareness Month

Therapy room at Lighthouse Autism Center with toys on a table with blue chairs and book shelves above

Autism Awareness Month

Infographic: Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month takes place in April every year and is an important event that helps to raise awareness about those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Learn more about this event, how you can support it, and other ways to support autistic individuals.

Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month, which is why we’re going to take a look at what it is about, when it was started, and how everyone can do their bit to raise awareness about autism.

Infographic: Autism Awareness Month

This amazing infographic was given to Lighthouse by Andy Mohr Toyota. The infographic shows the importance of Autism Awareness Month and how to #LightItUpBlue!

autism awareness month infographic

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is defined by the Autism Society of America as “a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.”

The autism spectrum includes a range of conditions affecting social skills, behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. It is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. The disorders found within the ASD spectrum include:

  • Autistic Disorder
  • Rett syndrome
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder (also known as Heller’s syndrome)
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified
  • Asperger’s syndrome

Signs and symptoms are usually noticeable in early childhood and emerge between 24 and 36 months of age. One of the most important things you can do for your child is to learn the early signs of autism in children and infants. It is important that you are familiar with typical developmental milestones your child should be reaching as well. 

Some of the most common signs of ASD in children are:

  • ​​Not responding to their name 
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Getting very upset if they do not like a certain taste, smell, or sound
  • Repetitive movements and phrases
  • One-sided conversations without needing a response

Of course, ASD is unique in every person, and no two people have the exact same symptoms. 

Children with ASD also tend to excel at particular things and have above-average intelligence. Some of the things that they might excel at include music, academics, and visual skills. Roughly 40% of those diagnosed with autism have above-average intellectual abilities. 

Inclusion and acceptance of autism spectrum disorders are just as important as educating the community and bringing awareness to autism. 

Autism Awareness Month Facts

Want to learn more facts about autism? 

  • In 1972, the Autism Society launched the first annual National Autistic Children’s week, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the official Autism Awareness Day was declared to fall on April 2nd by the United Nations General Assembly. 
  • Although Autism Awareness Day still officially falls on April 2nd, most countries recognize the month of April as Autism Awareness Month.
  • If you’re wondering what the color for Autism Awareness Month is, it’s blue. It’s also the official color for the “Light It Up Blue” campaign. However, many people choose to wear other bright colors to help promote this month as well.

How People Can Raise Awareness About Autism

Many people wonder how to support Autism Awareness Month every year. Some choose to wear the Neurodivergent rainbow-colored infinity symbol, or blue or other bright-colored clothes that stand out. Some also choose to organize or host autism-friendly events or fundraisers, as well as show their support through social media campaigns. Others help by sharing media that explains what autism is and how to understand it better. There are many different ways to show that you support autistic people and want to help spread awareness of autism during this month.

However, while it is important to have a month dedicated to raising awareness about autism,  we don’t believe that autism awareness should be limited to a single month – it’s something that should happen every day.

If you would like to raise awareness about autism every day and not just wonder about things to do for Autism Awareness Month, here are some of the actions you can take:

Educate yourself

Awareness starts at home, and you should do everything that you can to understand more about autism and how it affects people.

Attend local events

There are ongoing autism awareness events throughout the year. Go to these events, take your friends and family, and even volunteer if you have the time.

Stand up for others

If you see an autistic person being bullied or hear someone talking negatively about them, it’s time to stand up and let them know that it’s not okay.

Set a positive example

It’s important that you show others that allistic and autistic folks deserve the same respect. Always act with kindness and help people, and you will become a positive role model for others.

Methods of Inclusion and Acceptance

One of the biggest issues that people with ASD face is the feeling that they are not included and accepted. This could be for children in school or an adult at work. 

It’s easy to help autistic people feel more included – keep an open mind and an open heart when interacting with autistic people. Invite them into your circles and to events (even when you know they will decline) and encourage others to treat autistic people with respect and understanding. 

You can also become more involved by calling or writing to local legislators, state representatives, and other leaders about proposed legislation that could impact autistic people. Be aware of how new policies affect access to things like services, research, insurance, and more. Speak up and encourage others to do the same.

Contact us at Lighthouse Autism Center for more information about Autism Awareness Month. We also have a range of autism resources and information about our unique Lighthouse Fusion ABA therapy program for you to access online.

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Finding Reinforcers

Positive reinforcement for autistic children is a strategy to manage behavior and promote growth. Find out what positive reinforcers are, how they differ from bribery, and how to find the right ones for your child.  

Positive Behavior Support

As a parent of an autistic child, it isn’t always easy to know how to help your child negotiate daily life in a positive and productive way. Whether it’s a simple task that needs to be accomplished or complex problems that distress your child, it is important to find positive behavior strategies that work for both of you.  

Encouraging positive behavior can help autistic children recognize their own emotions and needs, as well as teach them how to ask for help or self-regulate when they are overwhelmed.  

Let’s find out how positive reinforcement can help your child, what reinforcers are, how to use them, and which ones are right for your child. 

What is positive reinforcement in autism?

Positive reinforcement helps autistic children to articulate their emotions and needs in a positive way without acting out or resorting to destructive behaviors like elopement or violence.  

You can use positive reinforcement at home by selecting suitable reinforcers like praise, games, sporting events and even tokens like stickers that accumulate towards earning a privilege or desired item or activity. Reinforcers may vary from child to child and finding ones that suit your child can be a rewarding process requiring observation, analysis, as well as trial and error. 

Why use positive reinforcement?

Reinforcers for autism have proved to yield the best results and is largely recognized as the most ethical use of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy (ABA), the foundation for using learning to help increase or decrease certain behaviors in autistic children. 

What is negative reinforcement?

Negative reinforcement is when you remove something that creates discomfort or distress to your child to increase a desired behavior. 

For instance, if a child responds with extreme anger or aggression to loud music with physical outbursts, it should be communicated or demonstrated to the child that the music can be softened or removed if they request it in a calm manner.  

After teaching the child the appropriate response parents can provide opportunities for them to request the removal of the irritant calmly and achieve the desired goal.  

Punishment should not be used

Punishment is not an accepted practice. According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s (BACB) Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts, punishing a child may not just further distress them but cause them to backslide into unhealthy behaviors. 

What is the difference between reinforcement and bribery?

As a parent of an autistic child, knowing the difference between bribery and positive reinforcement is key to the successful use of reinforcers.  

Bribes are generally offered to children without explaining what is expected from them or simply to stop an undesired behavior in the heat of the moment. This form of reward often entrenches bad habits in the child and often perpetuates a pattern of extracting rewards rather than learning how to articulate needs.   

Reinforcers, on the other hand, are not chosen and implemented arbitrarily. They form part of a much broader strategy and employ analysis as well as tried and tested techniques that do not entrench a pattern of unsustainable habits.  

How to use positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a technique that ABA therapists use in treatment but also needs parents to implement at home. Here’s how you can use it to help your child.  

The ABCs of ABA

ABA practitioners use the ABC model to assess problem behaviors in autistic children. ABC is an acronym for Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. With the help of an ABA therapist, you can assess your own child’s behaviors using this model.  

  • Antecedents refer to “what comes before” or triggers the behavior and can be anything from a situation or item to a time of day or even a topic of conversation.  
  • Behavior is fairly self-explanatory and refers to the action that needs to be understood and changed.  
  • Consequences refer to what happens immediately after the behavior is observed and, in the context of ABA, can result in reinforcing or punishing positive or negative behavior. 

Assessing the child’s needs

Every autistic child’s situation is unique. From environment to family dynamics and where on the spectrum they fall, as a parent, it is important to work with ABA therapists to observe and evaluate the exact needs of your child and what reinforcers to use. 

Without a proper understanding of these factors, positive reinforcement interventions may not work properly and may even have the opposite effect. Assessments will include but are not limited to: 

  • Past motivations  
  • Interviews with the child to understand their likes and dislikes 
  • Assessing the child’s main triggers (i.e., what do they desire or find difficult to attain?)  

Finding the right reinforcers for the child

Once you and the therapist have done a full assessment, you will move on to selecting the right reinforcers for your child. These can range from simple things like praise to more involved reinforcers where praise, for instance, is combined with a toy and activity to effect a positive response. 

It is important that parents enlist the support of ABA therapists to do the assessments and identify the most effective reinforcers for their children. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all model, and using unsuitable reinforcers for your child could actively harm your child as well as negatively impact their behavior. 

How to use reinforcers effectively 

Once you and the team have identified the reinforcers, they need to be implemented in a controlled and structured manner. Otherwise, you run the risk of receding into bribery or unuseful habits. 

Here are a few guidelines on how you can optimize the use of reinforcers. 

  • Reduce dependence on the reinforcer. At the beginning of the therapy, there will be intense use of the reinforcer to establish a pattern. However, it is important to phase it out as the new behavior becomes entrenched. 
  • Always combine the reinforcer with praise and verbal encouragement until the verbal praise becomes the main reinforcer and not the item or activity. 
  • Model the behavior you want to see in your child. Always practice what you preach! 
  • Be clear and concise in your instructions. 
  • Make sure your child understands as much as possible why they are doing something, rather than just doing it because they are told. 
  • Try not to allow free access to the reinforcer as this may lead to the reinforcer losing its impact. Instead limit access to about 80% to keep the child engaged in the future.   
  • Be aware of how you implement the reinforcer. Introducing it suddenly may actually reverse the effect, as many autistic children do not respond well to sudden changes. 
  • Have a backup for when your child doesn’t succeed.

ABA at Lighthouse Autistic Center

If you want to see how positive reinforcement affects behavior look no further than the Lighthouse Autism Center. They are leaders in the implementation of positive reinforcement through their ground-breaking Lighthouse Fusion ABA Therapy program, which fuses the best practices of ABA and speech therapy into a one-of-a-kind clinical model that delivers better outcomes for children with autism. Combined with world-leading autism resources, LAC is the Midwest’s leading autism therapy institution. 

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Lighthouse Autism Center Opens New Center in Jenison, Michigan!

ABA Therapy Center is Now Open in Jenison, Michigan

Lighthouse Autism Center (LAC) continues to expand, now with a network of centers in three states. It has been quite a journey. From its humble beginnings serving four families in one building, to now serving hundreds of families across multiple states for nearly a decade, it is truly amazing. Our newest state-of-the-art ABA therapy center is now open in Jenison, Michigan, providing autism services to 32 children and their families and creating 40 new jobs in the area. 

Our mission is to provide the highest quality autism services to children and families by opening our newest autism center near you. Lighthouse Autism Center has committed to continuing our mission in Jenison, Michigan as the need for ABA services continues to grow. Lighthouse is determined to fill that need by opening new centers in underserved locations with facilities that can accommodate a larger capacity of learners, helping more families and children with autism, reach their goals, with our new child development center in Jenison, MI, being testament of that.

Lighthouse Autism Center is the Midwest’s leading autism therapy provider

With beautiful facilities that promote natural and play-based learning, and a team of highly trained and compassionate clinicians, Lighthouse Autism Center brings together compassionate care and clinical excellence to offer the highest quality ABA therapy to children with autism.

Autism Center for speech and language

With a unique clinical model called Lighthouse Fusion™, children at Lighthouse are making greater progress, faster, all while having fun. While other ABA centers typically keep ABA and speech therapies separate, Lighthouse Fusion brings these two therapies together into one enhanced therapy solution. We invite you to learn more about how this innovative clinical model is helping to unlock each child’s potential. 

To learn more about Lighthouse Autism Center or enroll your child, contact our Family Outreach Coordinator at 269-249-1490 or visit our website.

Jenison Center contact information

8413 Cottonwood Drive

Jenison, Michigan 49428

Family Outreach Phone: 269-249-1490

Don’t see an autism treatment center listed near you? Contact us and let us know the area you are in, and we will notify you when we have a center opening near you!

Find a Center Near You

Interested in finding an autism center near you? Click Find a Center below to view a full list of current autism therapy centers.

Congrats to Anderson RBTs Who Leveled Up in February!

Our Anderson, Indiana Center had six Lighthouse Legends level up in the month of February! Congratulations to the RBTs who earned their well-deserved recognition and promotions, and to all Anderson’s awesome therapists who are instrumental in delivering compassionate care with clinical excellence!

From top left: Christen Walters, Enchantment Becote, Heather Waymire, Shannon Kemper, Shannon Street, and Yessenia Fuentes.

Lighthouse Autism Center Staff Spotlight: Tayler

Meet Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight of the Month: Tayler

Tayler is a Client Support and Diagnostic Coordinator at Lighthouse Autism Center and has been with Lighthouse Autism Center since October of 2022. She previously graduated with a bachelors degree from Western Michigan University, double majoring in Criminal Justice and Sociology. Tayler is a mother of one daughter and a son on the way. She enjoys exercising, listening to music, traveling, and going on walks with her family.

What made you decide to apply to Lighthouse?

I applied at Lighthouse because working with children with autism interested me. It was something that I felt like I would enjoy and would learn a lot from. 

What is your favorite part of working at Lighthouse Autism Center?

My favorite part of working for Lighthouse Autism Center is that I get to work with parents on the enrollment process and see learners start at our centers, getting the help that they need. I work in diagnostic testing and it’s amazing to see how many families we are helping.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?

My experience working for Lighthouse has been great so far. I like working for a company that helps so many families. The people I work with are also great people and are doing great things. 

What advice you would like to share for those interested in a career at Lighthouse Autism Center?

My advice for those wanting to work for Lighthouse Autism Center is give your best every day with a great attitude and smile.

Ready for a career where you can make a difference?

Lighthouse Autism Center Opens New Center in Daleville, Indiana!

ABA Therapy Center is Now Open in Daleville, Indiana

Lighthouse Autism Center (LAC) continues to expand, now with a network of centers in three states. It has been quite a journey. From its humble beginnings serving four families in one building, to now serving hundreds of families across multiple states for nearly a decade, it is truly amazing. Our newest state-of-the-art ABA therapy center is now open in Daleville, Indiana, providing autism services to 25 children and their families and creating 35 new jobs in the area. 

Our mission is to provide the highest quality autism services to children and families by opening our newest autism center near you. Lighthouse Autism Center has committed to continuing our mission in Daleville, Indiana as the need for ABA services continues to grow. Lighthouse is determined to fill that need by opening new centers in underserved locations with facilities that can accommodate a larger capacity of learners, helping more families and children with autism, reach their goals, with our new child development center in Daleville, IN, being testament of that.

Lighthouse Autism Center is the Midwest’s leading autism therapy provider

With beautiful facilities that promote natural and play-based learning, and a team of highly trained and compassionate clinicians, Lighthouse Autism Center brings together compassionate care and clinical excellence to offer the highest quality ABA therapy to children with autism.

Autism Center for speech and language

With a unique clinical model called Lighthouse Fusion®, children at Lighthouse are making greater progress, faster, all while having fun. While other ABA centers typically keep ABA and speech therapies separate, Lighthouse Fusion brings these two therapies together into one enhanced therapy solution. We invite you to learn more about how this innovative clinical model is helping to unlock each child’s potential. 

To learn more about Lighthouse Autism Center or enroll your child, contact our Family Outreach Coordinator at 317-222-1242 or visit our website.

Daleville Center contact information

9301 S Innovation Dr. Suite 103

Daleville, Indiana 47334

Family Outreach Phone: 317-222-1242

Don’t see an autism treatment center listed near you? Contact us and let us know the area you are in, and we will notify you when we have a center opening near you!

Find a Center Near You

Interested in finding an autism center near you? Click Find a Center below to view a full list of current autism therapy centers.